Vitamin B6 from plant foods may have lower bioavailability than vitamin B6 from animal foods, but studies on objectively measured vitamin B6 status among vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians are lacking. Thus, the vitamin B6 status among vegetarians, but also pescatarians, and flexitarians, compared to meat-eaters was assessed in the population-based NHANES study (cycles 2007-2008 and 2009-2010). Data on serum pyridoxal-5'-phosphate (PLP) and 4-pyridoxic acid (4-PA) measured by high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) as well as dietary intakes from 24-h recalls were available for 8968 adults aged 20-80 years. Geometric mean (±standard error) PLP concentrations were 58.2 ± 6.0, 52.1 ± 3.7, 49.2 ± 4.6 and 51.0 ± 1.1 nmol/L among vegetarians, pescatarians, flexitarians, and meat-eaters. The 4-PA concentrations were 32.7 ± 4.0, 29.0 ± 2.5, 34.8 ± 5.6 and 33.0 ± 0.7, respectively. There were no statistically significant differences in PLP, 4-PA, and their ratio across the groups in multivariable linear regression models. Overall, the use of vitamin B6 supplements was the strongest predictor of the vitamin B6 status, followed by the dietary vitamin B6 intake. Interestingly, several other covariates were significantly associated with vitamin B6 biomarker levels, particularly serum albumin, creatinine and alkaline phosphatase, and should be considered when assessing the vitamin B6 status. In summary, our findings suggest that a vegetarian diet does not pose a risk for vitamin B6 deficiency.
Keywords: 4-pyridoxic acid; population-based; pyridoxal-5′-phosphate; vegetarian diet; vitamin B6.